In 2020, I awoke after a cardiac catheterization procedure to find my right leg swollen and discolored. I asked the nurse to contact my physician, but was informed the symptoms I was experiencing were normal.
After four hours of lying flat, I continued to bleed from my incision site. Despite the immense pain that radiated up my right leg and the continued bleeding at the incision site, I was discharged home.
The next day, my right leg measured 1.5 inches larger than my left leg, and the back of my leg itched. When I spoke to a physician, I was asked if the size of my right leg was “normal for me” and instructed not to go to the hospital because COVID-19 could cause me more harm.
By Monday, I could not bend my right knee and my pants would barely fit over my right leg. The physician ordered an ultrasound which was negative for a blood clot. I was instructed to monitor my symptoms. I continued to worsen over the next several days when I was ordered another ultrasound.
I was diagnosed with an occlusive thrombus in the right common femoral vein, proximal vein, and deep femoral vein. By the afternoon, I had developed shortness of breath, dizziness, and feelings of palpitations. I was diagnosed with a suspected pulmonary embolism.
Through all of this, I was treated at home with Xarelto because I was told the treatment would be the same if I was admitted to the hospital.
Months later, I was diagnosed with antiphospholipid syndrome, received an iliac stent, and was diagnosed with femoral neuropathy due to the trauma from the procedure. The blood clot took over three years to dissolve and I have more doctors than I care to mention. I continue to experience tingling in my right leg to my toes every day and will be on a blood thinner for the rest of my life.
I was someone who woke up at 4:30 a.m. to exercise in the mornings and ate well. This journey has been a challenge. Running may not be in my life, but I now golf, walk often, and have a new workout program.
This experience has taught me that I am not alone. I am a nurse, but being on this side is different. I am a patient with a story, and a very long story. The NBCA resources have allowed me not to feel alone and I continue to share awareness with others. If I can help even one individual, it’s worth it.